Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

The clowns are coming to town! That's right, there's a Clown Convention happening in the Northland this week. We check in with a few locals on the art and lifestyle of being a clown.

Plus, musician Greg Wickham joins us to talk about his new album "Almost to Springfield."

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Candice Millard

Apr 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

She's a bestselling author who has written books about James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. We talk with Candice Millard about how she found her niche of writing about the lesser-known incidents in a historical figure's life, and how her work and her life have intersected.

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Can the arts survive without federal funding? With the potential elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, a look at how Brownback's Kansas might be a test case for art ... and a model for the rest of the country.

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Claire Tadokoro / KCUR 89.3

Since its establishment in 1997, the Charlotte Street Foundation has distributed over $1.1 million to provide resources for Kansas City artists, including unrestricted grants and free exhibition and studio space. Today we examine what impact the foundation has had in strengthening and maintaining existing local talent, and in attracting it from around the country.

Leon's Thriftway might possibly be the oldest black-owned grocery store in the country. Meet Leon Stapleton, the 91-year-old who has owned it for 49 years.

Then: In Kansas City, are we a little too quick to rise to our feet after every show? Should standing ovations be saved for truly exceptional performances? Or is that snobbish?

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Luke Andrew Scowen / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentationfrom weeds to wonder, we revisit those pesky oak mites that might soon be returning, and hear from a local seed collector on the stories she's reaped. Plus, how one local artist draws on Kansas City stories and the materials that grow wild in backyards and along highways.

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Every great story starts with an unforgettable opening line ... that's especially true at The Moth. Now, some of the best, most courageous stories you've heard, can be found as chapters in a book, that you can go back to, again and again.

Artistic director Catherine Burns, editor of All These Wonders, joins us as The Moth celebrates its 20th anniversary. 

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www.facebook.com

When he was a senior at Blue Valley North, Alex Haughey made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Now, he's coming back home with a new movie that's screening at the KC Film Fest. The five-day festival runs April 5 - April 9 at Cinemark on the Plaza. 

The new Kansas City label Haymaker Records just released a compilation album featuring local artists. After a taste of the album, we pivot from "math rock" to straight up science, with one KU sociologist whose research sheds light on a connection between success in life and genetic makeup.

A local musician on the surprisingly complex history of the trumpet, then a look at the iconic stores that defined a time, a place and a way of life in Kansas City.

Then, remembering the life of local historian Joelouis Mattox.

Guests:

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's a man with many titles: investigator; Dean of the Graduate School at the Stowers Institute; Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at KU Med; Adjunct Professor at UMKC. We hear about how his career has its roots in a high school gym class ... and what exactly he does in his lab.

Plus, a report from SXSW on the MidCoast Takeover, a showcase of KC bands.

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Courtesy of Mid-America Arts Alliance

With President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mid-America Arts Alliance will widen its advocacy efforts in hopes of preserving funding for the agencies, says Todd Stein, M-AAA's interim chief executive officer.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of the release of her new book of poetry, Striking the Black Snake​, local poet Monique Salazar joins us to share some of her personal journey, including her inspiring experience at Standing Rock, her heritage and memories of an abusive childhood.

Plus, Kansas City rap duo Ces Cru on their latest album "Catastrophic Event Specialists."

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Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Fermentation is a local and national obsession right now, from kimchi to kombucha to home brewing. We check in with a few members of our community with an affinity for the sour, and an artist who's collecting sourdough starters for an installation piece at the Charlotte Street Foundation.

Plus, how one local author believes we can tap into all 54 of our senses.

In the 1990s, fiddler Dennis Stroughmatt was a student at Southwest Missouri State University when a folklore professor made a passing reference to a little-known dialect of French spoken nearby. An encore presentation of his journey to find out if anyone still spoke Missouri French.

Then, a KU professor on the connection between blues and funk, and Question Quest has the final installment of the mysterious bird lady statue on the Trolley Trail.

Over the past 20 years, Kansas City has invested over $100 million in the East Side, but private development has been slower to follow. What would it take to get more people investing their dollars and their energy in KC's urban core?

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Why Two Sci-Fi Creators Call Kansas City Home

Mar 3, 2017
Kansas City Public LIbrary

When you think of the entertainment industry, Los Angeles or New York probably come to mind. But Kansas City?

As it turns out, the City of Fountains is home to two science fiction storytellers who are at the top of their game. Jason Aaron  writes comics for Marvel, and Bruce Branit creates visual effects for several popular television shows. 

Why Kansas City?

Banit was born here, graduated here and wanted to raise a family here.

One film features a teacher of refugee children in a rural town in the Netherlands. The other film is one man's dive into his brother's death and its effect on their family. A talk with the directors of these two documentaries, which are showing at this weekend's True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. Plus, is documentary filmmaking all about facts or can there be poetic license?

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A rural farm in Kansas. A wealthy family with a dark secret. A missing young woman. That's the basis of a new book by a local author. She shares how a real-life small Kansas town — and her background as a criminal defense attorney — helped inspire her novel.

Then, a look at how police department throughout the country (including in KC) are using technology that mines cell phone data.

Courtesy of Sherie Randolph / sheriemrandolph.com

One day, about 20 years ago, Sherie Randolph was sitting on her couch, flipping through TV channels, when she saw something unusual.

It was footage from the 1960s or 1970s of a black woman in a cowboy hat chasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan and "calling him a racist sexist bastard," Randolph recalled.

"Of course, I knew who he was, but I didn't know who she was," Randolph told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Rob Shenk / Flickr -- CC

A look at how Missouri deals with its Confederate past. Plus, the reaction to a newly-published Confederate memoir by a Clay County soldier.

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Robert Wright / Wikimedia Commons

Has a piece of art ever left you scratching your head? Today, we find out what goes through the mind of postmodern master David Salle when he's perusing a painting or sculpture. Here's a hint: He's focused more on his feelings about the art, than about what the art is trying to accomplish.

Fally Afani

If you went out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you probably heard Matt Pryor in venues around town.

He was the lead singer of the indie pop-punk band, The Get Up Kids, and he was also the front man for its spin-off, The New Amsterdams.

Now, the Lawrence-based musician is making solo records, and his new album, Memento Mori, takes a different turn.

Maybe you're a new parent who's seeking some advice as you're feeding your baby in the middle of the night. Or perhaps you're looking to connect with others who share your political view. A look at the role — both positive and negative — of online communities and how they impact our lives.

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Three musicians discuss the influence of protest music — the theme of this weekend's annual Folk Alliance International conference in KC.

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Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

A few thousand folk musicians from around the world are preparing to gather at the Westin Hotel in Crown Center for the 29th annual Folk Alliance International Conference. Over the next five days they're going to make a lot of music, but they're also going to make a lot of paper flyers and garbage. But hopefully not as much as previous years.

Courtesy National Orphan Train Complex

There’s only one train line left in Concordia, Kansas (population just over 5,000), and it hauls grain. But more than a hundred years ago there were four train lines. Some of them were passenger trains, and in the 1880s, one carried a group of unaccompanied children from New York.

It stopped in nearby Wayne, Kansas, where strangers were waiting to choose the children.

Courtesy of Des Moines Metro Opera

Most people are familiar with Dead Man Walking, the book and movie that's based on Sister Helen Prejean's interaction with a death row inmate. Well, there's also an opera that's inspired by her story.

We talk to some people from the Lyric Opera about their upcoming performance of this contemporary American work ... and the community outreach they've planned around it.

billsoPHOTO / Flickr -- CC

The Kansas City chapters of the NAACP and the SCLC are under new leadership. We sit down with the new presidents of these two organizations to hear their vision for the future of KC.

A recent New York Times article said: "Calling Peter Voulkos a ceramist is a bit like calling Jimi Hendrix a guitarist." We learn more about KC's rock star of clay.

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